Assalamualaikum, Internet people!
Yesterday was a surprisingly thrilling experience for my friends and me as thanks to Zay, we got to drive in our rented car to Gombak on a quest to know more about the Orang Asli there.
It’s actually for a group project that was assigned by our lecturer to my classmates to study about an ethnic group of our choice. My team chose these people as our subjects because we wanted to reach outside of our comfort zone and feed our curiosity on something new. Of course, the idea of a group road trip was pretty much the last persuasion we needed to take up the challenge and venture into the “unknown”.
But before the journey even started, we stopped by at Pak Li Kopitiam, an awesome nearby restaurant for breakfast. There wasn’t much on the menu that day (wait, it was just yesterday) so I had Nasi Ayam Lemon which is my second FAVOURITE dish after their nasi lemak.
Taking our order… but couldn’t resist the first picture of the day!
Ainalzzz took this picture of me with the most horrendously miserable (although I felt just fine) facial expression ever. But still, I swear she must be obsessed with me or something. 😛
At 9:30AM, we huddled into the car; Zay as our trusty driver, Ainal became co-pilot with Waze steadily in her hands, and Mahaneeza, Christy and me at the back.
We made our way to Gombak.
The traffic was alright even if it is Kuala Lumpur that we’re talking about here where the traffic can be suffocating at times. In less than an hour, we reached Gombak.
And even more amazingly, I managed to stay awake in the car even though I pretty much often just sleep like disposable corpse at the back.
Christy and me sitting at the back seat trying to stay awake (sort of)
As we drove on the winding small road through several modest-looking village settlements, we finally reached our first destination of the day; Orang Asli Museum (Gombak branch).
First of all, I haven’t been to a proper kampung where it is really quiet and peaceful, so I couldn’t help myself when I took several moments to just enjoy the scenery of the small settlement and the slopping mountains in the distance. I couldn’t even hear the noise of vehicles, crazy neighbours having another row, etc. However, the familiar tropical heat was getting the best of us so we quickly took refuge of the well air-conditioned museum.
We were given a special tour by the officer available, who was also kind enough to show us around despite the problem we had at the reception. The moment the tour started, we had our phone cameras, audio recorder, notebooks and pens ready. Every aspect that we needed to know was carefully and comprehensively elaborated by the officer. There was also an extensive collection of replicas/original artifacts regarding the Orang Asli on display. We recorded everything that could help us for our report later.
How the Semai ethnic group bury the deceased
We can never forget this picture. Anyone fancy to play the flute?
They have violins!
These are the bracelets that they make but I’m not sure which ethnic tribe wears them.
If I were to stand next to this fish trap, it could be the same height as me!
<PICTURE WITH GUIDE WILL BE UPDATED>
Because we lacked of the required paperwork needed by the main office, we had trouble in obtaining permission to visit the other two places which would give us the chance to meet the orang asli and get an insight into their lives (not the creepy way). However, on hearing that we didn’t exactly come empty-handed and had bags of clothes waiting to be donated to the people, we were given the green lights to meet them.
We were THRILLED. It would have been extremely disappointing if we had to cancel our trip midway… but we didn’t! And so, we drove to one particular destination; Kampung Kemensah where we found out that a small community of orang asli resides. Of course, no trip is normal if getting lost isn’t involved because we did… several times. We sometimes made the wrong turns, drove too deep into the woods, got confused by Waze last minute orders, and once, we almost drove straight into a graveyard!
I am not kidding.
But in the end, after asking for directions, we finally made it to our destination.
The people knew we were coming since Ainal, one of my teammates, had called their leader before we arrived. Some of the smaller children were already curiously waiting from behind the wooden gates to their small community. We parked the car and made a small climb up the road with our hands full of clothes and food for donation.
My first impression of the people, or at least the representatives who were very willing to be drilled with our questions, was that they are ever so friendly and chatty.
We asked them 14 main questions that consist about their welfare, culture, occupation, etc. Basically, we questioned them on everything that exists from under the sun!
Even if we were complete strangers to them, they treated us very kindly and didn’t tire out during our interviews. And clothes and food, I suspect, have little to do with it. I think they were just genuinely pleased to have visitors.
Some time into the interview, kids started to pile into the meeting room and it was the best time to hand out their treats!
My personally favourite part of the interview was seeing one of them demonstrating their traditional dance, Sewang while their leader (who just arrived from another meeting) bellowed chants in their language, Temuan. We were awed.
And the worse? The irony of being inside a building that has functioning ceiling fans and lamps, but without electricity supply.
It’s knowing the fact that even with all the modern facilities and support they have, they are still lacking of that one life necessity to help them in carrying out their lives. They’ve been depending on generators all this time and for too long.
By the end of that interview, I think my team and myself have learnt a lot and it’s definitely not something we can simply get from class lessons or a textbook. It’s an experience we have to feel on our own and we’ve grown a little bit more matured from learning all that there is we need to know from these people.
I got a feeling that writing a report on this will be another interesting journey for us!
This post will be consistently updated as more pictures are streamed in.
A special thank you to Christy for some of the photos!